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Government & Politics

As the May 3 primary approaches, here are three congressional districts to watch

 A ballot dropbox in the parking lot of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
Ideastream Public Media
A ballot dropbox in the parking lot of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Perhaps the biggest task facing congressional candidates this year is also the most basic one: reminding Ohioans that there’s even an election.

Early voting is already underway for the May 3 partisan primaries.

It’s understandable that voters may be confused. The ongoing legal battles over redistricting have already shunted the state legislative races to a yet-to-be-determined election later this year.

But the races for U.S. House districts are still on the May 3 ballot, even as legal challenges are pending with the Ohio Supreme Court.

Here are three districts to watch on May 3:

11th District

U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown is defending her seat just months after her victories in last year’s races to replace Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge in Congress.

Former state Sen. Nina Turner, who gained a national profile backing Bernie Sanders’ presidential bids, is challenging Brown again.

The district looks different from last year. Now it includes all of the city of Cleveland, many East Side suburbs and the West Side suburb of Lakewood.

Also in the race are two Republicans, former East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer and James Hemphill. But in this 78% Democratic district, it’s the Democratic primary winner who is the odds-on favorite to go to Congress.

13th District

Akron and Canton are now united in a district that includes all of Summit County, much of Stark County and a tiny sliver of Portage.

State Rep. Emilia Sykes, the former Ohio House minority leader, has the Democratic lane to herself.

There are seven Republicans running: attorney and conservative commentator Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, anti-abortion activist Janet Folger Porter, former Senate legislative aide Shay Hawkins, Dante N. Sabatucci, Santana F. King, Ryan Saylor and Greg Wheeler.

This is a competitive district with a slight Democratic edge, 51% Democrat and 47% Republican.

7th District

The new 7th links most West Side suburbs of Cuyahoga County with Solon and a few other East Side suburbs. To the south, the district encompasses Medina County, Wayne County and a portion of Holmes County.

Max Miller, the former Trump White House aide, is running on the Republican side in this district. So are Jonah Shulz, Charlie Gaddis and Anthony Leon Alexander.

Rep. Bob Gibbs, the 7th District Republican incumbent, announced his retirement after early voting began. GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who represents a number of Cleveland’s West Side suburbs currently, is also headed for the exits.

The Democrats on the ballot in the 7th District are Matthew Diemer, Patrick A. Malley and Tristan Rader, although Rader has suspended his campaign.

At 54% Republican and 44% Democratic, this district leans GOP.

There are still open questions about these U.S. House districts. But what we do know is that there’s an election on May 3, and congressional candidates are on the ballot.

Updated: April 27, 2022 at 3:13 PM EDT
This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Tristan Rader suspended his campaign in Ohio's 7th Congressional District.